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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 799


Mr BIDGOOD (8:39 PM) —As the member for Dawson I am passionate about delivering for Dawson. I believe the commitments that have been given to the people who elected me have been delivered and delivered well. As part of the Rudd Labor government we have worked tirelessly to deliver for Dawson. We are delivering for Dawson. We have delivered on an apology to the Stolen Generation. We have delivered on getting rid of Work Choices—that is a great promise kept. We have delivered on the largest single pension increase ever—another great achievement of this Rudd Labor government. We have delivered an education revolution in our schools, universities and TAFEs, including delivering trade training centres and vocational education—another great achievement delivered. As a government we are building a stronger Australia and a fairer Australia and we have built a solid foundation to prepare Australia for future challenges.

Last election, like the coalition, we promised action on climate change. Our action is being frustrated in the Senate by a coalition who prefers to play politics on this important issue. This government believes Australia’s long-term future is best served by government action on climate change. Climate change action is in Australia’s national interest because, as one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, our environment and economy will be one of the hardest and fastest hit. The government’s responsible approach is based on global scientific consensus, including the work of Australian scientists from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. The government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme encourages industry to invest in cleaner technologies like clean coal and cogeneration. Both of these technologies will generate new investment and new jobs for the people of Dawson. The fact is that the government’s market based scheme is the lowest cost way of reducing emissions.

The opposition leader’s climate change plan, highlighted in this place last week, is nothing more than a climate con job. It does less, costs more and will mean higher taxes or cuts to services like schools and hospitals. There are three problems with the opposition leader’s climate con job. Firstly, it does not work; secondly, it slugs taxpayers; and, thirdly, it is unfunded. It will mean higher taxes or cuts to services like schools and hospitals—something which we find totally unacceptable.

The government’s CPRS will support jobs. It encourages new investment in technologies and gears our economy to the lower carbon markets of the future. Our scheme is designed to help support the jobs of today while at the same time putting in place a scheme that will create the low-pollution jobs of the future. The CPRS has been designed to provide a significant degree of assistance to emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries in a way that retains their incentive to reduce their emissions. The government’s assistance to emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries is generous.

The CPRS and investments in clean energy will create jobs. That is good news for Australia and good news for the people of Dawson. Treasury modelling shows that Australia can continue to achieve strong trend economic growth while cutting emissions through the CPRS and that almost all industry sectors across the economy will continue to grow—again, good news for all concerned.

From an employment perspective all major employment sectors will grow over the years to 2020, with a substantial increase in employment on today’s levels. For example, national employment is projected to increase by 1.7 million jobs from 2008 to 2020, whilst at the same time our carbon pollution falls—a win-win, a good result. Average income is projected to increase by at least $4,300 per person over the 12 years from 2008 to 2020 and with strong trend, real GDP and GNP growth—again, a win-win, good news for all concerned.

Treasury modelling also projects that by 2050 the renewable electricity sector will be 30 times larger than it is today. A 2009 Climate Institute study shows that $31 billion worth of clean energy projects are already underway or planned in response to the government’s climate change policies. These will generate around 26,000 new jobs, mostly in regional areas. That is good news for the people of Dawson, which is a very regional area. There will be 2,500 permanent jobs, 15,000 construction jobs and 8,600 indirect jobs in supporting sectors. This employment figure grows even more when you consider the figure does not include the thousands of jobs that will be created by the government’s $4 billion energy efficiency programs and over $2 billion for carbon capture and storage. This government is protecting the coalmines in the Bowen Basin and ensuring a long future for clean coal jobs. We believe in a clean future for coal and we are investing in it. The LNP candidate for Dawson is wrong when he states that thousands of jobs will be lost because of our action on climate change. His allegations are purely politically motivated and causing unnecessary anxiety in the community. A scare campaign does not an effective prospective new federal member make.

The Australian Treasury has undertaken a comprehensive economic modelling exercise to look at the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets on the Australian economy. This modelling shows that the coal industry will continue to grow and grow with the government’s CPRS. This is good news for jobs, good news for coal and good news for the environment, with clean coal technologies. Alternative modelling contained in reports paid for by the Australian Coal Association and others has been misleading. The LNP are running a scare campaign and nothing more on the issue. I believe the people of Dawson will see through their scare campaign. They want to see the government delivering on their election commitments to climate change action, not an out-of-touch coalition mocking and blocking the government on this important issue.

This government recognises the importance of the coal industry to our local economy and to our local jobs. Treasury modelling shows that coal industry output is projected to increase by more than 50 per cent by 2050. We are protecting coal jobs by allocating $750 million in targeted assistance over the first five years of the CPRS to the most gassy of mines. The government has contributed $2 billion for carbon capture and storage technologies and support for other infrastructure projects to help improve our export capacity. Ports are expanding, new mines are opening and the future for clean coal is assured under a Rudd Labor government. We also know the costs of failing to tackle climate change outweigh the costs of responsible action now. That is why we want to pass the CPRS this year.

We all need to play our part in tackling climate change. Businesses that argue that they should face absolutely no cost at all are basically arguing for households and other businesses to pick up their slack—this would not be fair. Failing to act will have a greater impact on jobs and on the economy. Treasury modelling from October 2008 shows that economies that defer action on climate change face long-term costs around 15 per cent higher than those that take action now.

The Garnaut report found that current emissions trends would have severe and costly impacts on agriculture infrastructure and iconic environmental assets and tourist destinations, such as the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef provides around $5 billion in tourism revenue and employment for over 50,000 people. I truly am passionate about delivering jobs for the people of Dawson and for Australia through clean coal, saving the environment, reducing carbon emissions and all round having a win-win for everybody.